A diver survived more than 30 minutes at the bottom of the North Sea after his oxygen cord was severed in an oil-rig repair job gone horribly wrong

Dogwoof/Business InsiderChris Lemons was working in the North Sea in 2012 when his oxygen cord was cut, as shown in footage from a documentary about the incident.
  • A diver who spent more than 30 minutes in the North Sea after his oxygen cord was severed during oil-rig maintenance in 2012 survived.
  • When the ship Chris Lemons was connected to began to drift, his cord got tangled in it and disconnected. He was left with only a few minutes of air, and he fell unconscious.
  • Lemons, the subject of a TV documentary released last month, told the BBC that once he had “accepted there was no hope of survival, I was powerless to do anything to save myself.”
  • His crew expected to retrieve a dead body, but he awoke after mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and returned to diving three weeks later.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A British diver survived a horrifying underwater accident that left him under the North Sea with no oxygen supply for more than 30 minutes in 2012.

Chris Lemons was 100 meters (about 330 feet) underwater during oil-rig maintenance, attached to a support ship by a cord, when the cord was severed.

The cord provided his oxygen and the power for his headlamp. It was his only way of communicating with the rest of the world.

Lemons described his ordeal for a TV documentary called “Last Breath,” released last month. Press material for the documentary described how the accident and miraculous rescue went down.

Chris Lemons diver north sea oil rigYouTube/DogwoofLemons fell unconscious and was retrieved.

Lemons’ support ship suffered a system failure and started to drift in the sea, dragging him and another diver, Dave Yuasa, along with it. Lemons’ cord snagged, stretching and snapping before Yuasa could help him.

Lemons was trapped with about five minutes’ worth of oxygen inside his suit. The crew knew it couldn’t rescue him for at least 30 minutes.

A crew member pulled up the severed chord and shouted, “I’ve lost my diver! I’ve lost my diver!”

Lemons told the BBC that using his limited oxygen, he managed to climb to the top of the structure he had been working on, but then realised he could do nothing else and assumed death would follow.


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“I realised very quickly that the end was nigh,” he said. “I was on a countdown clock, and it was counting very fast.”

Lemons acknowledged the slim chance of his survival: “I think once I accepted there was no hope of survival, I was powerless to do anything to save myself. A quiet resignation came over me.”

Chris Lemons North sea diverYouTube/Dogwoof.Lemons.

He added: “I remember it being a period of great sadness really, of disbelief. How I could find myself in this dark, sad, horrible place and this is where I would end my days. I thought of everybody at home and the chaos I would cause.”

Lemons fell unconscious.

When the crew members returned to recover him, they expected to retrieve a body.

But Lemons survived and did not have any permanent damage from the ordeal.


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Lemons told the BBC that the limited oxygen in his suit had “a high concentration of oxygen which saturated my tissues and cells to allow me to survive.”

He told BBC Future that he woke up confused after receiving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. He said he saw Yuasa nearby, “looking exhausted.”

“It was only a few days later that I realised the gravity of the situation,” Lemons said.

Lemons returned to diving just three weeks after the incident and married his then-fiancée.

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